I was queuing for a coffee at a busy retail exhibition when a cheery Starbucks employee came out from behind the counter with a handful of cup sleeves and a sharpie. He proceeded down the line asking for “your name and order”.

Once the cup sleeves had been written on they were returned to the busy counter staff and processed one by one.

This did two things.

Firstly, even with the annoyance of waiting in queue and wanting to leave I felt obliged to wait as I’d committed to an order. So Starbucks made a sale from me when otherwise I would have walked away.

Secondly, although the waiting times were long this one gesture made me feel like the staff were doing all they could to serve the people in need of their morning coffee. The shop was busy after all.

Could they have improved the speed of the queue with a little better technology?

Consumers believe you’re to blame for queues in your shop.

According to YouGov* 59% of shoppers are not prepared to wait in a queue with 18% saying that they would go to an alternative shop. So reducing queues in your store is important if you want to keep customers.


The same study found that when it comes to queues in shops, consumers believe that it’s the shopkeepers that are to blame. In fact, when asked what factors retailers have control over in relation to queuing:

  • 89% of consumers believe not having enough staff members is the cause of queues
  • While 23% named payment methods taking too long as a factor.

Technology has its part to play

However, adding more staff isn’t a financially viable option for many businesses and it certainly won’t scale indefinitely. This is where technology has its part to play by improving the speed at the point of sale.

YouGov’s Retail Consulting Director Rob Cushen believes technology can solve some of the queuing problem.

‘Life is tough for high street retailers at the moment. This research shows that a significant number of shoppers turn their backs on a high street shop if the queues are too long. The problem for traditional bricks and mortar retailers is that these same people will then go online and once there they prefer online specialists like Amazon.  This is a huge lost opportunity for the high street. The solution is not to increase the number of staff to handle queues at peak times but the smart use of technology’.

Do you sell loose items?

If you weigh loose items such as fruit, vegetables, meat or cheese then you should consider using integrated weighing scales if you don’t already. An integrated weighing scale will work directly with your EPoS System to process an item’s cost as it’s weighed on the scale. This saves you having to manually enter the weight and cost into the EPoS System and will also protect against any human entry errors.

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Quick Purchase Buttons

Using product sales reports you can identify which items are sold most often in your shop and create quick purchase buttons for them.

These, quick purchase buttons allow a till operator to select popular items from one screen improving the speed shopping baskets are processed.


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Contactless Payment

Many banks and payment processors allow customers to pay via contactless payment. All they need to do is hold a contactless enabled bank card or mobile phone over the chip & pin terminal then the payment is taken.

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YouGov’s Russell Feldman, Associate Director who manages the Mobile Wallet, understands that there is a reluctance to adopting contactless technology.

‘Online banking faced the same challenges that a mobile wallet system faces now, and as with any technology involving personal finances, reassuring customers that the technology is safe and secure, educating them and having systems in place if something does go wrong will be the keys to success.”


He went on to further say

“The current economic climate could be the catalyst to go contactless: not only keeping customers satisfied as queues are reduced, but allow retailers to compete more effectively with their online counterparts.”


If you’d like to know more about how contactless chip & pin can speed up your point of sale please contact Ryan Boland on 01924 260020 or join The Retail Technology Library.

[featured image Flickr creative commons]